Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weekly Update: 4 Days 'Till We Put In at Rain Lake!

  • Current Scholastic Vacation Pursuits
    • That's right, there's only 4 more days until we Put In at Rain Lake to paddle 170km - West to East - across Algonquin Park! I'll be gone for 2 weeks to do this trip, so there won't be a blog update next weekend, sorry. However, if you're friends with me on Facebook, you'll be able to see our location on Google Maps as I'll be sending in daily GPS coordinates with my SPOT device.
    • This is certainly going to be an epic trip - we've been planning it for years and I'm so very excited to go. There's no doubt that it will be wet and muddy. It's guaranteed that with all the rain we've had this spring, the bugs will be at their worst. And since it has rained every day this week, and every day last week, it's going to be a miracle if it doesn't rain every day of our trip. But that's ok - the title of this trip will likely bear the subtitle, "Mostly Awesome with Brief Periods of Terrible" and our mantra will be muttered a thousand times per portage, "Just Because It's Insane, Doesn't Mean It's Impossible!"

  • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
    • I haven't really been drooling over anything but freeze-dried meals in the aisle at MEC since the preparations for the canoe trip have fallen squarely on my shoulders. However, rhubarb is out in the grocery stores at last and I picked up some of the juiciest stalks... I'm going to make rhubarb and rosemary crisp to bring to family dinner tonight. It'll be a self-concocted variation on this brilliant idea: the rhubarb rosemary lemon spritzer.
Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer
  • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
    • I fell in love with these origami lotus flowers... they would make the perfect place settings at some future formal dinner. Especially if those future placemats were made out of maps... honestly, how amazing would that be?!
Origami Lotus Flower Decoration or Favor - all ivory
  • What I'm Reading Right Now
    • I'm reading and re-reading the map across algonquin, my to-do list, and my menu planning lists to make sure everything is ready for the trip. I'm currently trying to decide which book(s) I should bring... I've added a poll to the sidebar on the right, perhaps you folks can vote for which one you think should make it into my pack?

  • TED Talk I Watched This Week
    • Here's a great tip on how to tie your shoes correctly - you probably think you already know how to do that but this 3 min vid might just prove to you otherwise! 
  • Song of the Week
    • Here's an amazing video for Jeremy Messersmith's, "A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard"

  • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
    • I'm really grateful for my family- our trip across Algonquin would not be possible without the help of my Mom: she's driving us to the Put In, meeting us for a resupply halfway through, and picking us up at the Take Out PLUS looking after the buns while we're away. Thanks Mom!

  • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
    • Putting In at Rain Lake!!!! YAY!

  • Bunny Photo of the Week
    • I have 2 couches: one seats 3 people and the other 2. I usually sit on the 2-person couch because it's just the right length for me to sprawl... which leaves the 3-person couch the default territory of the bunnies. Sometimes, they take this a little too seriously since Hoyle has been known to gently nip people who sit on "his couch" when I have company over. Here's Hoyle with his most regal expression, attempting to prove that he's King of the Couch:

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Graduation Video

    Hi Folks!

    The graduation video is up on YouTube! Check it out:

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Weekly Update: Graduated! The "holidays" continue...

    • Current Scholastic Vacation Pursuits
      • Convocation was on Friday this past week- so I've officially been hooded and diploma'ed! Saroja, MD. Feels pretty good. Or at least it did once my feet stopped hurting from the NINE HOUR ceremony. Good grief!
      • Instead of making a speech, our valedictorian made a film by doing a series of interviews with various students from our class. I made it in to 2 of the spots! Apparently, the video will be posted on YouTube, so I'll put it up here on the blog once it becomes available. 
      • Aside from that, the entire weekend has been spent packing up the apartment in preparation for the move tomorrow. I have way more stuff that I probably should. Most of it is books, which for the life of me, I just can't seem to give away.
      • Happily, we did manage to make a few social occasions this weekend. The first was a BBQ at Scarlet's parents' place. Words can't really capture how lovely it was to share that evening with my surrogate parents, Scarlet, and Constellation. The next day, Scarlet and Constellation were heading off to Portugal to begin a 5 week tour of Europe. Saying goodbye at the end of the evening was one of those surreal moments that we always knew would happen but never wanted to acknowledge. It'll be a few months until I see Scarlet again but distance doesn't matter to friends- and I have a very good track record with long distance relationships! Ha! That didn't stop me from bawling most of the 2 hour drive home from the BBQ, having just said goodbye to one of my closest and dearest friends.
      • The next morning, we took Mom out for a birthday brunch at the Pillar and Post in Niagara on the Lake. It was really quite lovely and we were all delighted to eat real food rather than yet another meal of crackers and jam (since that's all that's left in apartment)! They practically had to roll us out the door after brunch, we were sooo full.
      • Mom left last night and Penguin and I have been plowing through the rest of the packing. The Green Machine came down from Steel City to help and, true to her name, made a serious dent in the workload. Fortunately, I didn't have to tender another tearful goodbye to her since she'll be in The North Land for my hometown goodbye party. A few others close friends dropped by as well, though, and it was hard to watch them all leave at the end of the night. Le grande sniff.

    • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
    Sweet Sprout Cupcake Toppers

    • TED Talk I Watched This Week
      • Lying in bed yesterday morning waiting for the others to awaken, I watched this great talk about chronic pain by Elliot Krane.
    • Song of the Week
      • Interpol and Modest Mouse are my primary packing-up-the-apartment artists; here's Interpol's Pace is the Trick:

    • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
      • Everyone who supported, helped, carried, fed, and pulled me through medical school. I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you.
      • The love and help of my family and friends in getting the apartment packed up. 

    • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
      •  Getting the move done so I can concentrate 100% on our trip through Algonquin! 10 days to go!

      • Bunny Photo of the Week
        • Jazz had her follow up appointment post-surgery at the vet's on Saturday. The news wasn't good. Her acquired malocclusion, while trimmed back, is likely to regrow and will need surgery again in about 6 months. And probably every 6 months thereafter. That would make her vet bills $2600 a year! In addition, she'll need to stay on antibiotics for life to deal with her chronic bilateral otitis media and nasalacrimal duct infections.
        • The vet said that the "prognosis was poor" even if these interventions are carried out.
        • Needless to say, this news was rather devastating. Despite her ailments, Jazz remains a spritely happy bunny who is eating well, running around, causing mischief, and generally seems unaffected by her symptoms.
        • I'm going to go ahead and take both her and Hoyle with me to Winnipeg and get a second opinion from their new vet there. Fingers crossed for better news in the future.
        • Here's the buns in their box at the vet's waiting for the doctor to come in...

        Sunday, May 15, 2011

        Weekly Update: First Days of Vacation

        • Current Scholastic Vacation Pursuits
          • You'd think vacation would be easy. Some people take lying on a beach and doing nothing the same way a duckling takes to the pond for its first swim... I, however, am no duckling. I cannot lie on a beach for more than 15 seconds before I (a) receive a sun burn that will guarantee my early death by melanoma; (b) am immediately attacked by sand flies; (c) start to feel nauseous from anxiety because I'm not accomplishing anything. Some habits are hard to break... and always doing stuff is one of my most formidable penchants.
          • To this end, since my exam last Wed, I have done the following:
            • purged the apartment and donated a bunch of stuff to GoodWill, the Humane Society, and my dearest friends
            • achieved a lifelong dream of flying a helicopter- Great Lakes Helicopter put me in the pilot's seat of an R22 helicopter last Thursday for about an hour. I got to have complete control of the machine while at 3000 ft and remarkably, I'm pretty damn good at flying! My instructor was a little awe struck at how naturally I came to flying until I told him how similar it was to driving a colonoscope. lol.
            • rescued a golden retriever puppy that was wandering down the center line of a 4-lane, 100km/h highway
            • driven to the North Land to visit Penguin and our families
            • helped set up a surprise party that was very surprising, indeed!
            • gone to the gym
            • bought paint for refurnishing some old furniture that I'm taking with me to Winnipeg
            • bought fabric for redoing the pillows I use on my couch
            • researched recipes
            • caught up on our TV shows (The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother)
            • slept in
          • See? By sleeping in, I have proven myself capable of "taking it easy" - right?!
          • Anyway, only 5 more weeks to go before this whole vacation thing is over and I get back to work. Here's hoping I'll 'make' the most of it! :P
        • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
          • There are about 15 recipes I've collected while studying that I'm dying to try out but as the first order of business, what I really wanted was a taste of home... and that taste comes in the form of one of the best (and easiest!) recipes Penguin taught me during the first year we were dating: lemon cream chicken pasta. Check out this link for the bare bones of the recipe: we mix it up with different spices, add tons of veggies, and always make an effort to use happy chickens. So, feel free to mix and match with whatever you've got in your fridge... just don't ever substitute anything for the fresh lemons. They have to be fresh. It just isn't the same otherwise!

        • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
        • What I'm Reading Right Now
          • I haven't figured out what I'm going to read over the summer break yet but I'm looking forward to going to Chapters and finding some good books! I'll keep you posted!

        • TED Talk I Watched This Week
          • This is a story about Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic photographer and some of his arctic and antarctic experiences... at the end of the talk, after some amazing images, he offers an invitation to the crowd... I think you can guess how I answered... "Paul Nicklen, I will swim with you any day! As soon as I find your email on the world wide web, you'll be receiving my acceptance to that invitation!"
        • Song of the Week
          • Give a Little Love by Noah and the Whale
        • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
          • Being done!!!! YAYAY!!!!!!!

        • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
          • Packing everything up in the Tropical Tundra so that I'll be free to enjoy my vacation without worrying about the move and getting everything out of the house.

        • Bunny Photo of the Week
          • I'm not the only one who disapproves of being uprooted from house and home, regular schedules, and a happy busy lifestyle all in the name of vacation... looks like I have an ally in this "disapproving of vacation" scheme.

        Thursday, May 12, 2011

        That's a Wrap! (no, not the burrito kind... the I'm-$*%&!-done-med-school-kind)

        It seemed fitting that on my last day of medical school I was up before 6 am. We had to be in The Hammer for 8am, so I got up a bit early to make a good breakfast (read: go to Starbucks) before Constellation kindly bundled me into his car and transported my solemn, silent form to the university to write the LMCC.

        Now, for those of you who don't know what the LMCC is... well, it's like the Ordeal of Knighthood but for doctors. There are no fancy horses to ride about or lovely maidens swooning over you... the similarities are really just limited to the authority to potentially kill somebody and wear a shiny stethoscope (rather than plate armor).

        Indeed, in either situation, you spend the night before praying while staring sleeplessly at the ceiling and sharpening your mind into a focus that you hope will be enough to get you through the next day. Then, it's a cold shower to wake up, a long journey to the Chamber of the Ordeal...

        I was early for the exam. I always am (again, many thanks to Constellation who went in to work 1.5hr early just to soothe my neurosis). The first part was 196 multiple choice questions in 3 hours. I had to hoof it through to finish on time. There was no opportunity to mull something over, check the math, or think back through an algorithm. It was all about reflexes. You knew it or you didn't. Either way, you had moments to click on the right answer and then move on. If you were successful and answered things correctly, the questions got harder. If you weren't, things got easier. They call this "computative adaptive testing"- I like it call it "f***ing with our minds". There was no way of knowing if you'd over-prepared and just knew your stuff or if you were screwing up royally and should start thinking about ways to hide from your creditors when they finally discovered that you were a joke of a medical student and kicked you out of the profession.

        A brief interlude of 45 minutes for lunch reminded us that a bigger world existed outside the glow of the computer screen and a mouse sticky with sweat. The warm sun and soft breeze bolstered our nerves for the second onslaught with promises of summer and vacation. With that sweet reward in mind, we walked back into the cave to slay the dragon.

        Part Two was what they called "CDM" (clinical decision making). It consisted of obscenely vague case scenarios for which you had to develop management plans. The format was all short answer or "choose 1-2 options from this list of 30-40 items". After the first few questions, I quickly developed a new acronym for this section: "Clueless? Don't Murder." The whole goal of this exam was to make sure that whatever you did (a) addressed the most significant issue at hand (ie. don't let the patient lose life or limb) while (b) not undertaking any action that might iatrogenically hurt or kill said patient.

        Finally, it was over. After 8 hours of mind-breaking work, we collectively wobbled outside into the blinding sunlight as newly minted doctors. The thought that no rounds or case presentations or bedside pimping would take place the next day, or week, or month was unfathomable. I'm a free woman until July 1st, when the real grueling test begins with residency. But that just hasn't sunk in yet. I still have the urge to study. It feels wrong to put the books away.

        Three years ago - hell, three days ago, I couldn't have imagined that moment. The finality: I took on medical school and I survived. It had always been a fantasy that one day I'd step up to the plate and take a crack at hitting the ball. It was a shock that I got bunted into medical school and now it's an even bigger shock that my bunt was actually enough to hit the ball out of the park and run the bases.

        I got everything I dared to dream about. It is only now that I wonder at my audacity to dream so big. The problem with success is that it's only encouraging... it just pushes you to dream bigger, push harder, dig deeper, and - above all - love with no parachute.

        And I think we all know just how much I love jumping out of planes after this past summer...!!!

        Sunday, May 8, 2011

        Weekly Update: the Last Hurrah and the End of Med School

        • Current Scholastic Pursuits
          • Last Thurs was our last lecture and this coming Wed I write the licensing exam... it's absolutely surreal. Three years ago, I could never have imagined this day but here it is on the horizon and I'm in my final preparations for meeting it head on.
          • I will be the last of my friends to write the exam - most wrote this past Fri and Scarlet writes tomorrow. I wanted the extra time to study but really, I just needed the extra time to adjust.
          • As much as I'm looking forward to a break, the chasm of 6 weeks between me and residency yawns like an idle lion. Unscheduled days, no set plans, no schedule. It's going to be hard to handle. I actually miss clerkship already. I'm not very good at not doing much.
          • That said, though, Penguin has promised to keep me busy with crafty projects and going to the gym to get in the best possible shape for Algonquin. I've also promised myself that I'm going to get a good start on mastering the harmonica by taking some lessons while I'm in the North land with him. I'm sure I'll find a way to fill the time... my biggest concern is that I fill it well. I'm not going to get a vacation like this again for the next 5 years minimum.

        • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
          • Right, so I haven't cooked anything in more than 2 weeks. Reheated soup, yes. Grilled cheese, yes (that doesn't count as cooking in my books). But, there's plenty to look forward to once the exam is done...

        • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
          • This bookmobile may provide inspiration for a crafty project in my future... :)
          • I'm really looking forward to getting my hands all gluey and paint-flecked again.

        • What I'm Reading Right Now
          • In a totally random act of lost self control, I devoured 4 (FOUR!) non-medical related books in the last week. I don't know what came over me but the only explanation I can offer is that I needed something to occupy my thoughts before bed other than calculating anion gaps and urine chloride levels.
          • The books were old favourites: the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. If you didn't already know that I'm a sucker for good kid-lit, then I guess the cat's out of the bag.

        • TED Talk I Watched This Week
          • Sadly, no TED talks... just podmedics casts. Soon, though... soon.

        • Song of the Week
          • On Friday night, I got a call from Scarlet around 8pm. 
            • Scarlet: "We're going for ice cream, we'll pick you up on the way."
            • Saroja: "Thanks, but I think I'm ok. Also, haven't eaten dinner yet."
            • Scarlet: "You're coming." Her tone brooked no arguments.
          • True to her word, Scarlet and Constellation picked me up 5 min later and we had our first Avondale ice cream of the year. It was a good break and I was once again hugely grateful for the balance and calm that Scarlet exerts on my life. I don't know what I'm gonna do when we live in difference provinces... 
          • Anyway, on the way home, Scarlet- knowing that Stars are one of my favourite bands- asked if I'd seen their new music video.
            • Scarlet: "It's crazy!"
            • Saroja: "Crazy awesome or just plain crazy?"
            • Scarlet: "Plain crazy. There's a naked girl, she grows a tail..."
            • Saroja: "I can't wait to post this on the blog!!"
          • So here you go, folks... the uncensored, plain crazy Stars video. I think it goes without saying that if you're opposed to nudity or people growing tails, you probably should skip it. That said, I think they did it well. It reminds me of all those art history lectures I took during undergrad.
        Stars - Changes (Uncensored) from Stars on Vimeo.

          • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
            • I'm grateful for my supportive family and friends for keeping me sane and balanced... and putting up with all my stressed out, late night, gnashing of teeth, can't eat/can't sleep rants while I prep for this silly test.

          • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
            • Uhh, finishing medical school!!!!!

          • Bunny Photo of the Week
            • Jazz bunny had a rough week. On Wed, I took her into the vet suspecting some dental problems. I was right. She had severe malocclusion and went in for surgery the next morning to have all her teeth trimmed back. Poor Jazz and poorer ($) me! Now, she's on eye drops three times a day and nightly oral antibiotics. Fortunately, she's looking a lot better (which unfortunately means that she's none too cooperative with her medication regime). But, it's good to see her wolfing down her greens again.
            • Anyway, the vet was really great. They took a picture of her post-op and texted it to me on my phone so that I wouldn't worry about her while I was stuck at school in lecture. Here she is looking as cute as ever despite being totally scared out of her wits.

            Tuesday, May 3, 2011

            Amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

            Some musings on the federal election... (you can take them or leave them but we're all entitled to our own, educated opinions)

            Congratulations Jack Layton and the NDP - you are the official opposition at last! And I think that you will serve that position well over the next 4 years. I'm looking forward to watching you hold Harper accountable and advocate for the values of the majority of Canadians who voted against the Conservatives. If you manage to do this and keep Quebec onside, who knows what could happen 4 years from now! On a more immanent note, I look forward to seeing you advance the need for a positive and respectful tone in parliament.

            Congratulations for Elizabeth May for being a brilliant lady, a wonderful orator, and carrying the hope for change and accountability into the House of Commons with your sheer determination and vivacity.

            It was hugely moving to watch Gilles Duceppe announce his defeat and retirement from the BQ. I've never held separatist values but I've greatly respected him as a politician and a gentleman and I will miss seeing him in the House and at future political debates.

            Hopefully, the Liberals have learned an important lesson that running a platform best described as "we're the only alternatives to the Conservatives" is egotistical and unrealistic. Iggy performed well in the debates but failed to deliver a platform that addressed the values and needs of the majority of the people. Moreover, hopefully he learned that smear campaigns are loathsome, derogatory acts that do not inspire confidence in your capability in the House of Commons or as a leader (this goes for the Conservatives, too, but more on that later). While I'm a staunch NDP supporter, I would love to see the Liberals rally by reforming their leadership and platform so that they can once again represent the psyche of the Canadian people and live up to their significant cultural heritage.

            I'm surprised and disappointed to acknowledge that Harper succeeded in gaining a majority. I have, however, felt that despite the votes, this campaign has done much to expose some of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy that the Conservatives have undertaken while in office for the last 2 terms. Hopefully, the publicity of these acts and the significant swing in the popular vote to the more left political spectrum will cause them to rethink some of their scheming and better champion the values of the Canadian people. It's a tenuous hope but I'm an optimistic person.

            Lastly, I am absolutely thrilled that many Canadians gave up their apathetic ways and showed up to vote in this election. It will be important to remember that this voice is one that is not only exercised once every 4 years but on a daily basis: both by remaining engaged as citizens in the actions of parliament as well as through an open dialogue with the MPs that we've elected so that our opinions and values may be reflected as political actions and global situations evolve in the future.

            O Canada, indeed!

            Sunday, May 1, 2011

            Floods, Blizzards, and May - Oh My!

            I'm currently in Winnipeg - flying home this evening. I came out for a couple of days with Penguin to find a place to live for residency. We were very successful and I have a great little apartment lined up, so I'm very pleased with that. Overall, the weather was really amazing as well: low 20s, bright sun, absolutely gorgeous. Until yesterday, when it rained (adding to the already high water levels of the rivers and serious flooding of the province) followed by a whiteout blizzard today that's left a few centimeters of snow on the ground.

            This is my kind of weather!!

            Anyway, the weekly blog update is once again endangered because of the travel and study schedule but hopefully I'll be able to update you folks in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I hope you're ready to go out and vote tomorrow for the federal election! If you don't have a candidate in mind or are one of those people who endorse strategic voting, check out your riding and its electoral history here at Project Democracy.

            Have a great week and I'll be in touch soon!
            Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...